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The Sun and Weather Can Damage Your Skin

October 10, 2012

By WeatherBug Sr. Meteorologist, James West

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Over time, the sun and the weather can really damage your skin, causing anything from premature aging to wrinkles - and even skin cancer. Here are a few tips to keep you safe:

The sun is the biggest danger to your skin, specifically its ultraviolet rays (UV). This invisible solar radiation can be divided into two different wavelengths, UVA and UVB, both of which cause sunburn and other damage to exposed skin.

Sunburns can produce short-term pain and discomfort, but they cause long-term damage. The Skin Cancer Foundation says that five or more sunburns during a lifetime doubles the risk for melanoma, the most serious form of skin cancer. Cumulative UV exposure over many years is the main cause of other skin cancers likes basal cell and squamous cell carcinoma.

Not only can it be life threatening, but UV radiation can also contribute to skin aging, brown spots and wrinkles --the not-so-pretty side--effects of achieving that golden bronze color. Suntans, mainly caused by UVA rays, occur when the skin darkens to prevent deeper DNA changes in the skin. What appears to be a "healthy tan" is actually early skin damage. Dermatologists consistently stress that there is no such thing as a healthy tan.

The prevention of the skin damage from UV rays is easy and straightforward.

  • Apply a broad spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of 15 or higher at least 30 minutes before going outside
  • Seek the shade during the midday and afternoon, and
  • cover up with clothing, a broad-brimmed hat, and UV-blocking sunglasses.
And remember -- the sun`s danger doesn`t just happen in summer; winter sports enthusiasts can also get a burn.

The sun is not the only thing that can cause skin damage. Researchers believe air pollutants like smog, exhaust, smoke, dust, and dirt interacting with UV rays can create harmful free radicals on your skin. These can potentially cause things like premature wrinkles, clogged pores, and rough, dry patches.

Air pollutants are nearly impossible to avoid but there are easy, over-the-counter remedies to battle the damage.
  • First, a daily regimen of anti-oxidant moisturizer is a must. The anti-oxidant will help eliminate free-radicals that cause aging while the moisturizer keeps the skin from drying.
  • Exfoliating several times a week will remove old skin and open up pores.
  • Lastly, another big key - drinking plenty of water will help keep the skin hydrated from the inside.

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